Diego El Cigala at SFJAZZ

El Cigala has had many transformations. He is always of course the Sinatra of flamenco and a shining star of Spain, but he has in the past been all flamenco, more jazz, and now he is trying a flamenco salsa mix with a largely Cuban band.

This evening I went with my family to see him with his current band at SFJAZZ. The band was lively and so was Cigala. They interacted with joy and excitement and all seemed to be in awe of each other. Cigala, throughout the show, craned his head to smile at his brilliant band members. They exuded energy and it rubbed off on the audience who itched to dance to the upbeat salsa/jazz/flameno medley. Many did get up and dance in the aisles something I doubt happens often at SFJAZZ which is a bit formal for its own good.

Cigala played a lively and long set. His voice rang clear and strong, echoing throughout the theatre with the immense power and emotion one can only hope for in flamenco. It was pretty remarkable. He sang some traditional Spanish and salsa songs which wooed a crowd full of Spanish speakers (it also tested my own Spanish which as it turns out is not as rusty as I thought). Cigala also was quite the charismatic character. He smiled and laughed at the audience often gesturing at women in the crowd. He really reminded me of the professors I had while living in Spain.

His band did likely steal the show though. Especially notable was his pianist, Jaime “Yumitos”Calabuch, who impressed the crowd. He exuded confidence with each note and had truly exceptional timing. Also notable were the two trombonists Richard Stella Prieto and Leo Aguirre Ocampo. The color and feel of the trombone in the salsa pieces was really unlike anything I’d heard before. So enjoyable.

It was a lovely evening full of remarkable music with my extraordinary family I’m lucky to have in my pretty city I’m lucky to call home.